Todd McShayCloseESPN Senior Writer
- ESPN College Football and NFL Draft Analyst
- Joined ESPN in 2006
- Played quarterback in high school and was a backup QB for the University of Richmond.
John ParolinCloseESPN Stats & Info
- Senior Stats Analyst for ESPN Stats & Information
- Contributes to ESPN Chalk section
- Worked at ESPN since 2009
They say numbers never lie, and it certainly helps in scouting to have them support — or differentiate from — what we see in draft-prospect evaluations.
We took the top 10 ranked 2019 NFL draft quarterbacks — Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Ryan Finley, Jarrett Stidham, Daniel Jones, Tyree Jackson, Will Grier, Clayton Thorson and Gardner Minshew — and looked at five key statistical areas. What do the numbers really say about the next wave of NFL signal-calling talent?
ESPN Stats & Information pulled two telling stats for each of the five categories, and NFL draft analyst Todd McShay evaluated the numbers against what he has seen on tape. Stats & Info’s John Parolin provided some context for the numbers against other draft classes and the rest of the FBS.
Who can extend plays under duress?
McShay: I always put more value in pressure than the blitz factor. You have to consider the full picture. Blitz numbers aren’t just on the quarterback; they’re a function of the team’s offense. But pressure is just pressure, and performance in such circumstances definitely correlates to success in the NFL. You’re looking for efficiency under duress when QBs are forced to make faster decisions with fewer open receivers. It’s an important component of evaluating QB talent.
With that in mind, Jackson is a pretty interesting case. He has some wheels (4.59 40-yard dash) and the arm strength to deliver throws under pressure, but that offense didn’t help him out much when opponents sent the blitz. His pocket awareness puts him behind the eight ball a little when the house crashes down.
Parolin: Exactly two of the 47 Power 5 and Mountain West quarterbacks drafted since 2012 had better Total QBRs under pressure in their previous season than Jackson: Sam Darnold (twice) and Baker Mayfield. Andrew Luck posted a 23.7 in 2011, and Jared Goff had a 23.0 in 2016.
McShay: Finley’s success here isn’t surprising; he processes very quickly and gets through his progressions without delay. He senses pressure and knows when to climb and when to slide laterally, all while keeping his eyes downfield. Additionally, he comes with above-average mobility.
Parolin: The NC State QB indeed carved up blitzes last year (14 touchdowns, one interception), and his worst game — a 41-7 loss vs. Clemson — came when he was blitzed on only eight of 35 passing plays.
McShay: It’s a good sign to see the top guys hang tough against pressure, too. I think Haskins can extend plays better than people give him credit for, and Lock and Murray excel just as we expected. Murray’s 98.0 Total QBR against the blitz certainly had a lot to do with him, but it’s also a result of the weapons he had in the Sooners’ passing game and an offensive line that is sending four players to the draft this year. But it should shock no one that such an explosive athlete is terrific when forced to create.
Parolin: Yeah, none of the 47 QB draft picks since 2012 — not Mayfield, Goff, Luck, Patrick Mahomes or anyone else — were more effective against a blitz than Murray. And he wasn’t simply outrunning linebackers, either. Murray was blitzed 105 times last season and scrambled only 17 times for nine yards. Murray did his damage against at least five pass-rushers through the air, completing 72 percent of his throws with 18 passing touchdowns and two interceptions.
Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray is an aggressive playmaker with a strong arm, quick release and good passing accuracy.
McShay: Jones stood out as a potential first-round guy who really struggles under pressure. He just isn’t a quick-twitch guy, and he locks onto targets and hangs onto the ball too long. Pressure really starts to impact his accuracy during the course of a game. And Jones ran a 4.81 40 at the combine, but there’s a big difference between straight-line speed and creating space in the pocket. A QB has to buy time early in his NFL career before he learns how to see the entire picture. His lack of ability to do so is a little concerning.